Thursday, June 9, 2011

another child for the former Duke of Parma

June 9, 1905

Roberto, the former Duke of Parma, "has just been presented by his consort with his twenty-first child."  The Marquise de Fontenoy states that this number of legitimate offspring makes the duke the "patriarch of European royalty.

The Duke has been married twice.  His first wife, Princess Maria  Pia of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, left him with nine children, and his second wife, Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal, gave just birth to her twelth child. 

He also has give grandchildren.  His eldest daughter, Maria Luisa, by his first wife, had four children by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria, before her death, and her brother, Prince Elias of Bourbon-Parma, who is married to Archduchess Maria of Austria, is the father of a little girl.   

The Duke of Parma's daughterts are seen as "the most reactionary and narrow minded of all the scions of old workd royalty."

Roberto succeed to the Parmese throne on the "mysterious and unpunished assassination of his father in 1854, when he was six years old.  Five years later, the young Duke was "deprived of his crown, driven from his dominions, and forced to seek refuge in Switzerland."  This was due to the war of 1859 between France and Sardinia on one side, both against Austria.   This led to the Duchy of Parma and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany being incorporated into the eventual kingdom of Italy.

Although the Duke is now permitted to return to Italy, he has made his home in Austria, "where he is accorded all the prerogatives and immunities of a prince of the blood."  He is also "colossally rich." having inherited the fortune of his late uncle and aunt, the Count and Countess de Chambord.

It should be noted that Maria Pia died on September 29, 1882, one week after giving birth to her twelfth child, a stillborn son, Augusto.  However, only nine of the children were living at the time of Roberto's second marriage to Infanta Maria Antonia.

The date of the story is the 9th (and published on the 10th of June.) On June 11, Maria Antonia gave birth to her twelfth child (and Roberto's twenty-fourth child, a son, Gaetano Maria Joseph Pius

Several theories come to mind:  the Marquise, knowing the that Duchess of Parma, was about to give birth, wrote a piece than ran too early, or the June 11th date is incorrect.  Or, could the Marquise have been writing about the previous child, Princess Enrichetta Anna Maria Immacolata Giuseppa Antonia, who was born at Pianore on March 8, 1903?

Gaetano was the Duke's final child.  Two dozen kids. 

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